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Kenyan Emmanuel Korir wins the men's 800m at Olympics 2021

Emmanuel Korir leads a Kenyan 1-2 finish in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics
Emmanuel Korir leads a Kenyan 1-2 finish in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics had their first Kenyan gold medallist - Emmanuel Korir in the men's 800m. Korir ensured that the Kenyan hold on the men's 800m continued after David Rudisha's consecutive gold medals in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics.

Emmanuel Korir, who lives and trains in the US, had made the Kenyan team finishing third in their Olympic trials, behind Rotich. Michael Saruni, who had won the 800m at the Kenyan Olympic trials, was eliminated in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics. Korir won in 1:45.06, a relatively slow finish time, especially given the field, no matter the conditions.

The victory should provide more than enough redemption for Korir's false start in the preliminary heats of the 400m event, where he was disqualified.

Ferguson Rotich finished fifth in the 800m at the 2016 Rio Olympics but has been steadily improving since then. Of the nine finalists in Tokyo, Clayton Murphy of the USA, fellow Kenyan E. Korir and N. Amos of Botswana have all run faster times in 2021. But Rotich ran the fastest times across the heats and in the semi-finals. He looked in fine shape.

Rotich redeemed himself by winning silver in 1:45.23, barely half a stride behind Korir.

Polish suprise at the Tokyo Olympics - Dobek

However, the revelation of the evening was Polish runner Patryk Dobek. Dobek won a host of international medals in the 400m hurdles before switching to 800m not too long ago. He finished last in his quarterfinal of the 400m hurdles event at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He even ran a 400m hurdles as recently as May 2021.

Dobek had the night of his life in Tokyo as he won bronze, overtaken by Rotich only a few meters from the finish line.

This adds to the Polish contingent's even more surprising victory in the mixed 4*400m relay.

Clayton Murphy, who won the 800m bronze at Rio 2016, had a steady path to the final. He won his heat and finished second behind Peter Bol in his semi-final. But it wasn't his day as he finished last in the final.

Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who has been very successful in the past in tactical races, wasn't in good nick tonight.

Nijel Amos, who is still joint third on the all-time 800m list along with Sebastian Coe, was the only member of the historic 800m final at the 2012 London Olympics to run in Tokyo. His path to the final was anything but straightforward.

While Amos ran a creditable time winning his heat to qualify for the finals, he tripped and finished last in his semi-final. Later, he was reinstated into the final since it was ruled it wasn't his fault. However, he finished barely ahead of Murphy in the final.

Amos beat Korir and Rotich in the 2021 Monaco Diamond League while setting a world-leading time of 800m in 2021. His slow finish tonight was rather surprising.

Ferguson Rotich after winning his 800m semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics
Ferguson Rotich after winning his 800m semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics

Korir and Rotich have ensured that Kenya will have a gold and a silver from the athletics events at the Tokyo Olympics. A little before this event, Hyvin Kiyeng had won Kenya a bronze in the women's 3000m steeplechase.

Also read David Rudisha and Rudisha retains 800m title in Rio

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Edited by SANJAY K K
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